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Havre de Grace Colored school fundraising to continue; settlement postponed one week

The Havre de Grace Colored School Foundation still needs to raise about $15,000 more toward a $153,000 purchase price, according Patricia Cole, the foundation committee chair. Monday's scheduled closing for the purchase has been postponed a week to secure the remaining funds.
The Havre de Grace Colored School Foundation still needs to raise about $15,000 more toward a $153,000 purchase price, according Patricia Cole, the foundation committee chair. Monday's scheduled closing for the purchase has been postponed a week to secure the remaining funds. (MATT BUTTON/THE AEGIS / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Anyone who has not yet contributed toward the purchase of the former Havre de Grace Colored School has another week to do so, after Monday’s scheduled settlement was postponed to the following Monday, March 5.

The Havre de Grace Colored School Foundation still needs to raise about $15,000 more toward the $153,000 purchase price, according to Patricia Cole, the foundation committee chair.

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The closing had been scheduled for Monday afternoon, following a month-long fundraising blitz to purchase the building, which served as a segregated school for African-American children in the Havre de Grace area from 1910 to 1953, and convert it into a museum and cultural center.

Although the closing was postponed a week, the foundation has secured a $50,000 line of credit from Harford Bank to cover any fundraising shortfalls, Cole said Monday afternoon.

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“We now have additional time to raise the money without having to get a loan, hopefully,” Cole said.

Havre de Grace Mayor William T. Martin said Monday the project “has gone from a dream to a possible reality, and I believe they’re going to pull it off.”

Cole said she hopes the foundation will not have to tap the line of credit, since it does not have any income to repay debt.

“Hopefully we won't have to get it, because we don't want to start off owing anything,” Cole said.

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The Havre de Grace Colored School Foundation, working under the umbrella of the nonprofit Community Projects of Havre de Grace, has been trying the purchase the former school — now a medical office building — from the Hirsch family and turn it into an institution to preserve and promote the history and legacy of the Colored School.

A reduction in the price of the former Havre de Grace Colored School building will make it possible for two local groups to reach their goal of acquiring the

The foundation had raised $132,000 toward a purchase price of $153,000 as of Friday. The goal is to raise up to $160,000 to cover the purchase price along with closing costs, legal fees and other associated expenses, Cole said.

Two fundraising events over the weekend brought in a combined $6,100, including $4,500 raised from “A Night of History,” an event put on Friday by Havre de Grace Middle School eighth-graders to honor the Colored School’s legacy and Black History Month, plus another $1,600 raised through the Gumbo & More Fundraiser on Sunday in Manassas, Va., according to Cole.

Cole and her family divide their time between Northern Virginia and Towson. Her father, Bernard James Cole, graduated from Havre de Grace Colored School in 1949, the last year students graduated after completing the 11th grade — the 12th grade was added in 1950, according to the foundation website.

She praised the Havre de Grace Middle students for their event, which a number of former Havre de Grace Colored students and faculty members attended. Cole said students created a “human timeline,” portraying historical eras between 1910 and 1965. That timeline encompasses Havre de Grace Colored and its successor, Havre de Grace Consolidated School, that served African-American students from 1953 until Harford County Public Schools were desegregated in 1965.

“It blew me away; the community really came together and the students put on a really great event,” Martin said.

“I couldn’t be any more proud with the kids of our community, with the message that they’re trying to send to everybody about the historical heritage of our city,” he added.

Students also raised funds through concessions, a silent auction and encouraging visitors to make donations online at the event, Cole said.

Martin said the Colored School “definitely shaped and defined a large portion of the character of our city,” noting that the era of racial segregation “isn’t so far in the past as people think.”

The former school is also “a symbol of pride for a great part of our community,” the mayor said.

“I believe that it’s very important that this building be saved for the purpose of a museum, for people to come and to learn and to really understand the role that school played in the City of Havre de Grace,” he said.

Martin has attended other foundation fundraisers, and he said members “do a great job” of educating people about the Colored School. He said people “quickly open up their pockets and donate” when they learn the school’s story — some people contribute $10, others contribute $1,000.

“Once people know the story, it’s easy to understand why we have to preserve the building,” he said.

Martin said the city has not contributed funds toward purchasing the building, although it might be able to assist if all else fails. He stressed he is confident the foundation will make its goal, though.

Martin pledged the city will support the foundation in getting the museum up and running, through in-kind services such as support with infrastructure needs, and it will be part of the museum's line item in the city’s annual budget.

“That’s what we do in Havre de Grace,” Martin said. “We help our museums.”

To make a donation, visit http://www.hdgcoloredschool.net/donate, or mail a check to P.O. Box 799, Havre de Grace, MD 21078. Checks should be made payable to Community Projects of Havre de Grace, and donors should write “Colored School Foundation” in the memo line.

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